Box Office Buzz: What does Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm mean for the future of ‘Star Wars’?

By Ashley Bergner
Box Office Buzz

Like many “Star Wars” fans, I’m still trying to process the announcement that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm and now will be at the helm of the “Star Wars” media empire. Maybe it’s just me, but this news took me completely by surprise, and I certainly didn’t see it coming. As a movie buff, I normally monitor movie news websites and magazines fairly closely, but I didn’t hear any rumors about this sale before it happened.

It’s a major purchase — worth about $4 billion dollars — and it’s one Disney plans to quickly put to use: a new “Star Wars” movie, Episode VII, is slated for release in 2015, and other “Star Wars” related projects could soon follow. Overall, I’m feeling pretty positive about the announcement of this sale, and I think Disney has strong potential to successfully continue the “Star Wars” franchise.

Once I recovered from the shock of this announcement, a couple concerns and reservations did come to mind. My main fear is that Disney will try too hard to make too much money off the franchise too quickly. Although Disney has made many great films throughout its history, on a few occasions I feel the company has sacrificed art for profit. For example, I enjoyed the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, even though some fans didn’t like the second and third films, and I thought the third film was a good way to end the series. Then, Disney decided to make a fourth Pirates film. It was still a fun movie, but it didn’t have the same magic as the previous films. Disney tried to push the franchise too far, and I don’t want to see this kind of situation happen with “Star Wars.” I’d like to see them develop quality new “Star Wars” films and not try to rush the process or keep the focus more on profit than product.

That said, I feel the risk of commercializing the saga would have been there regardless of which company purchased Lucasfilm, and I do think Disney will respect the franchise. It’s rare to have such a long-running franchise with such a rich mythology, and I believe Disney will seek to do it justice.

I also don’t want to see film makers try to remake or reboot the saga — and I don’t think Disney will let this happen. Some films lend themselves to remakes or reboots, but the original “Star Wars” trilogy is too much of an iconic classic. The films are a piece of cinematic history that just can’t be recreated. Harrison Ford IS Han Solo, Carrie Fisher IS Princess Leia, and Mark Hamill IS Luke Skywalker. These are roles you just can’t recast. It’s possible there could eventually be a prequel in the style of J.J. Abrams’ recent “Star Trek” film, going back and following the characters while they’re young. A film featuring the adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca in their younger days might be interesting, but then again, it’s tough to think of anyone but Harrison Ford playing Han Solo, so I don’t know if this concept would work or not.

I don’t know many details about the 2015 “Star Wars” film, but it presumably will take place after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” I’d been hoping film makers would adapt one of the “Star Wars” expanded universe novels for the films, but I’ve heard this probably won’t happen. Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, a fan favorite, would have made a strong film, as would the more recent “Legacy of the Force” series, featuring Jacen Solo (Han and Leia’s son) and his decision to turn to the dark side.

However, I still hope the script for this new movie will draw on some of the material in the expanded universe novels, or at least acknowledge it and still treat it as canon. I’d like to see certain characters from the novels — such as Mara Jade, an Imperial assassin who later marries Luke; Ben Skywalker, Luke’s son; and Grand Admiral Thrawn — make appearances in this new film saga. My hope is also that Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill would return to play older versions of their characters.

I’m probably getting a little carried away, but as a long-time “Star Wars” fan, I’m very excited about the possibility of new “Star Wars” projects. Perhaps Disney will continue work on the proposed live-action “Star Wars” TV show, as well (a gritty, noirish series about bounty hunters or the Empire’s rise to power might be interesting).

I think if Disney plays its cards right, it will be able to continue the “Star Wars” franchise for many years to come. As long as it respects the franchise, I believe fans will be more than willing to come along for the ride.

So, what do you think about Disney’s announcement? Do you think this is a good move for Lucasfilm? What future “Star Wars” projects would you like to see?

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